an innocent babe could do harm.' And at the same time he was thinking to himself, 'But how well he aimed, the confounded little beast!' 'It's the golden age!' he said, when he had been thoroughly cleansed and the agreeable smile had come back into his face.
'Yes, indeed,' said Lyenitsyn, turning to Tchitchikov also with an agreeable smile, 'what is more to be envied than the age of infancy? No anxieties, no thought of the future.'
'A state into which one would willingly change at any moment,' said Tchitchikov.
'Without thinking twice about it,' said Lyenitsyn.
But I fancy both were lying; if such a transformation had been offered them, they would have changed their views pretty quickly. And indeed what fun is there in sitting in a nurse's arms and spoiling people's coats!
The young wife retired with her firstborn and the nurse, for he too needed a little setting to rights: though he had been so liberal to Tchitchikov he had not spared himself.
This insignificant circumstance disposed Lyenitsyn still more favourably to Tchitchikov. Indeed, how could he refuse such an agreeable and tactful guest, who had lavished such caresses on his little one, and who had so magnanimously paid for it with his coat?
Lyenitsyn thought: 'After all why should I not grant his request if that is what he wants …'
(Here there is a considerable hiatus
in the manuscript.)